Yale baseball now sits atop the Red Rolfe Division.
The Bulldogs (20–12, 8–4 Ivy) completed a four-game sweep of former division leader Dartmouth (18–10, 6–6) over the weekend, putting Yale in sole possession of first place. The Elis only allowed three runs in all four contests combined, while scoring 19 runs of its own.
“We expected to [win] going into the weekend,” pitcher Vinny Lally ’11 said. “We played the best baseball we’ve played all year in our biggest weekend so far.”
Last year, the Big Green swept the series against the Bulldogs and extended its winning streak over Yale to seven consecutive games. Dartmouth was the superior team with a 21–8 run margin in the contests. This year would be different.
In the first game of the series, neither team was able to string together enough hits to score and the batters struggled to handle the other team’s hurlers. However, that soon changed in the fourth inning, when slugger Trey Rallis ’11 hit his third home run of the season. The Bulldogs scored another run before the inning came to an end.
With a 2–0 lead, the bats came alive for the Elis in the fifth inning. Cale Hanson ’14 started the onslaught with a single. The next batter, Rallis, brought Hanson home on an RBI double. Rallis then scored on a Ryan Brenner ’12 RBI single to give Yale a commanding 5–0 lead.
Lally had a dominant performance on the mound. He limited a strong Big Green offense to only three hits and struck out two batters en route to his fourth win of the season. He allowed Dartmouth to score only one run as Yale went on to win 6–1.
“There weren’t any areas where we didn’t get the job done this weekend,” Lally continued. “We’ve put everything together right when we needed to most.”
The Bulldogs continued their offensive assualt on the Big Green to start the afternoon contest.
Brenner brought in the first run of the game with a sacrifice flyout with the bases loaded. But the Big Green were fortunate to escape the first inning without another Yale score as third baseman and captain Andy Megee ‘11 was thrown out when he tried to steal home.
In the second inning, a Hanson single brought in two runs to give his team a 4–0 advantage — one they would not let go.
Brook Hart ’11, who is second on the team behind Lally with a 2.44 ERA this season, had another strong performance for Yale. The senior struck out seven Big Green batters and gave up only one run.
“I think it was just the first time we have put a complete weekend together of solid pitching, hitting and fielding,” Hart said. “It was really good. We all were pounding the box the whole time and finishing them off when we had the chance.”
Hart went 8.2 innings, before freshman Kevin Fortunato ’14 took his place with the bases loaded.
The freshman was not fazed by the pressure and struck out Dartmouth’s Jason Brooks to secure the win for the Bulldogs, 5–1.
“With our defense, I know I just have to throw strikes and they always take care of the rest,” Fortunato said after his second save as a Bulldog.
Returning to the field after a wet Saturday night, the Bulldogs had not cooled off. They struck as soon as play began with consecutive singles from Rallis and Megee. A Brenner RBI put Yale in the lead 1–0.
Yale scored two more runs in the game, in the fifth and sixth inning respectively. But, the key to success for the Elis was their defense. Pitcher Chris O’Hare ’12 led the charge with a four-hit shutout, including six strikeouts.
“The hardest thing was staying focused from game to game,” Megee said. “[But] our pitching was absolutely lights out. The best I’ve ever seen all of them. And we hit great when we had to.”
The Elis came through with another 5–1 win in the second contest. In that game, the Bulldogs turned to Pat Ludwig ’12 for the pitching endeavor. He struck out nine batters in the first five innings of play.
The Yale offense also was on fire to complete the last game of the series. Brenner had a three run home run in the third inning. Adding to the Big Green’s woes were strong showings from Megee and Hanson, who combined for five hits and two runs scored.
“Every single starter was so good,” Megee said. “Our offense was very balanced I thought.”
Fortunato returned to the mound in the ninth inning to seal another victory for the Bulldogs.
With the four victories, the Bulldogs moved two games ahead of Dartmouth for sole ownership of first place.
The Elis will return to play on Wednesday against Army in New York.